Recently, we visited an exhibition at DC Moore of Robert Kushner paintings. Kushner’s paintings are part of the “Pattern and Decoration” movement in fine art:
“The Pattern and Decoration movement consisted of artists, many of whom had art education backgrounds, who had been involved with the abstract schools of art of the 1960s. The westernised, male dominated climate of artistic thought throughout Modernism had led to a marginalisation of what was considered non-Western and feminine. The P&D movement wanted to revive an interest in minor forms such as patterning which at that point was equated with triviality. The prevailing negative view of decoration was one not generally shared by non-Western cultures.” [cite]
Somehow, I don’t think of Kushner as marginalized or feminine, and I will confess I was askance as to why Kushner’s paintings, as opposed to, say, those of Joyce Kozloff or Miriam Shapiro, were on display at DC Moore. I did my best to set that aside to see what I could see and ended up, among other things, taking more photographs than made any sense.
Meanwhile, continuing on my journey through paintings of all sorts, I ran across George LaTouche’s A Maiden in Contemplation (c1900). While I enjoyed its quiet beauty, I thought, contrary-wise, it needed a bit of je ne sais quoi. So, at the head of this post, you will find it paired with a detail from Kushner’s Hi Octane (2022).
Ghirlandaio’s An Old Man and his Grandson (c1490) did not escape Kushnerization, with a detail from Keukenhof II (2022), even though it is, to my mind, a perfect painting.
Nor could I resist using the scraps.
To accompany you on your journey, should you choose, here is Dmitri Kabalevsky’s Second Cello Concerto, performed by Stephen Isserlis.
Especially enjoy the first collage for the huge contrast between painting styles and palettes–quite a mashup. And they click! Cheers for all of these.
Mash up says it all! It did not seem possible, when I started out, that our contemplative maiden could inhabit Kushner’s Hi Octane world, but somehow she glides peaceably by, the designs on her headdress perhaps playing off the white-ish patterns Kushner slips in alongside all those brash colors. It was interesting to play with the Ghirlandaio, too. A thousand variations of backdrop could do nothing to diminish the power of the painting’s ineradicable focus—those two faces gazing on one another.